HARARE – Buoyed by recent events in the warring Zanu PF, the party faction rallying behind embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations are said to be resuscitating their plans to either persuade or cause President Robert Mugabe to retire before the country’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News yesterday that the mood within Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa faction) was ebullient, as the camp felt that it had finally weathered the relentless onslaught that it had experienced from its avowed party foes, the Generation 40 (G40) group, over the past year.
Among their recent causes of optimism, Mnangagwa’s close allies say restless war veterans aligned to the beleaguered VP have “beaten back the G40” over the past few weeks, forcing Mugabe to compromise on a number of issues — including those related to the suspension and purging of key members of their camp.
A Team Lacoste insider told the Daily News — which has written accurately and consistently on Zanu PF’s mindless bloodletting of the past few years — that, as a result, many in the faction felt that the time was ripe to revisit their plans “to persuade Gushungo (Mugabe)” to retire now, and ostensibly hand over power to Mnangagwa.
“The problem we have is time and the mounting challenges all round. But many comrades firmly believe that now is the time to persuade Gushungo to consider not completing his current term (which ends in 2018) in the country’s interest and that of the party and his family,” the senior Zanu PF official said.
Another supposed Lacoste insider claimed that the faction had in the past few weeks been involved in “around the clock meetings” that were aimed at showing both the G40 and the First Family that Zimbawe and the ruling party would “thrive and not die” if Mugabe retired from office.
“This is not about a coup or forcing the president out of power, no. This is about what is in the best interest of the country, the party, the president himself whom we love very much and his family.
“The reality is that things are not going well in the party and the country, and the time has come for all to realise that the president has tried his best and that it may be time for others to put shoulders to the wheel as well.
“The issue for everybody, of course, will be how to achieve this as smoothly as possible politically and constitutionally” the bigwig said, adding nonchalantly that “this is not about Ngwena (Mnangagwa) but the country”.
Zimbabwe’s Constitution says in the event of the death or incapacitation of the president, the last acting president will take over for up to 90 days, after which the party in power will nominate a person to complete the remainder of the former president’s term.
A Zanu PF women’s league member linked to the G40 said Team Lacoste was “so desperate” in the party’s deadly factional and succession wars — hence the camp’s quest to exploit constitutional provisions to make sure that Mnangagwa would succeed Mugabe.
They are so desperate these people that they are holding a series of successionist meetings around the country involving some war veterans and their suspended members, which is dividing the party and setting tongues wagging,” she said.
Apparently, and to this end, the Mnangagwa-aligned war veterans were in Mashonaland Central on Saturday with the twin objective of removing regional war veterans’ leader John Machiveyi from office, and briefing the provincial executive on the outcome of their recent meeting in Harare with Mugabe.
Machiveyi stands accused by Team Lacoste of being sympathetic to the G40 and being “too loyal” to under-fire Zanu PF national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere.
The spokesperson of the VP-aligned Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Douglas Mahiya, confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that they were “annoyed” with Machiveyi and that they were currently embarking on an outreach programme in the provinces.
“As an executive, we are currently holding meetings in provinces to give feedback to our members on our meeting with the president. We were in Mashonaland Central at the weekend and realised that … Machiveyi has not been consistent for quite some time.
“He has not been attending our meetings of late and his absence has impacted negatively on the operations of the association. We have since put in place mechanisms to see how we can solve this problem and we have assigned people to investigate his suspicious conduct,” Mahiya said.
The forthright Mahiya also reiterated to the Daily News that they were not happy with Kasukuwere, who is nicknamed Tyson for his combative political style.
Scathingly describing the youthful Local Government minister as “a mentally retarded person who has been given a whistle”, Mahiya also accused Kasukuwere of working to destroy Zanu PF — saying he had become “the party, the policeman, the prosecutor and the judge”.
He added that as Kasukuwere’s party position was so crucial in the life of the former liberation movement, it should be a preserve for former freedom fighters who would then use it to put in place a programme “to continue educating the masses on the ideals of the revolution”.
“He (Kasukuwere) must not demonise war veterans and he must come to us and acknowledge that he has no knowledge of mobilising the masses and building the party … the moment he remains with this idea that he is superior to us and untouchable, then the tension will remain,” Mahiya warned.
And commenting on the so-called million-man march that is planned for next month by Zanu PF youths aligned to the G40, he said war veterans were capable of mounting their own counter demonstration.
“He (Kasukuwere) should relieve himself of this job and if he refuses we are going to take it upon ourselves to mobilise the people to show them how evil the G40 is.
“We are experts in terms of mobilising the masses. If he repents and wants to utilise the knowledge that we have, if he does that fine. We used to capture the enemies, taking them to the rear and teaching them and that is what we will do with him,” Mahiya thundered.